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Lake Taupo

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Lake Taupo was created from a volcanic eruption two thousand years ago, an explosion so large it blew the mountain apart, and sent enough dust into the atmosphere to haze the sun in China. What was left behind was a huge crater lake, surrounded by the three remaining snowcapped peaks of Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe. This fresh water lake has remained unpolluted over the years and still boasts as the most beautiful in the country (and probably the southern hemisphere!) It is not unusual to swim out in one of itís bays and still be able to see clear to the bottom of the lake, at some 15 to 20 feet deep or more.

Lake Taupo and itís surrounding areas still remain strongly geothermal. At certain points along the lakeís shoreline you can ease away your aches and pains in warmed waters; just to the North you will find geothermal fields, boiling mud pools and steaming geysers in Wairakei; and the lake situated at the top of Mount Ruapehu is heated all year Ďround! Over the past five years there has been a resurgence in volcanic activity on Mount Ruapehu Ė with the lake having steamed itself dry on more than one occasion, and the mountain itself erupting twice, coating the snow with grey ash Ė causing havoc with the winter ski season, a major tourist drawing card for this tourist town.

Taupo is the outdoor enthusiastís and adrenaline junkies dream. You will find all outdoor activities and pursuits catered for. Whether itís skydiving, jumping out over Tongariro River from the highest bungy platform in the North Island or taking a scenic flight out over the lake and surrounding mountains. Jet Boating up to the Huka Falls is popular, as is hiring 4x4 motorbikes to take out on rough terrain, horse trekking through pine forests, or white water rafting the aggressive Tongariro River. Watersports abound of course Ė kayaking, windsurfing, jet skiing, water skiing, sailing, parasailing; or if terra firma is more your thing Ė try mountain biking, abseiling, rock climbing and hiking through trails offering spectacular scenery. In the winter months the town still bustles with those arriving for the ski season on Mount Ruapehu, slopes that are world renowned for the accomplished skierís and home to many international skiing and snowboarding events. For a special treat, ski Whakapapa in the morning, before heading to the Grand Chateau for lunch, located just below this ski field. This graceful hotel was built in 1929, and still retains itís elegant class and style.

For those wanting to get away from it all, Taupo offers some of the most beautifully untouched areas of the country. Just south of Taupo is Tongariro National Park, a world heritage park created in 1887, when the land was gifted to New Zealand by the tribe of the Ngati Tuwharetoa. For those with a keen interest in Flora and Fauna, visit Pureora Forest Ė and maybe youíll be lucky enough to gain glimpses of the rare Kaka or bush parrot or to see the beautiful fluorescent blue mushroom. Whirinaki Forest is claimed to one of the best Native examples of New Zealand Bush in the country while the Kaimanawa Forest to the Southeast of the holds forests of ancient Beech. Not to be outdone, over 40 bird species live in the largest fresh water Delta wetland in the country, at the southern end of the Lake.

In discussing Lake Taupo we cannot omit the fishing. It is thought that it is now one of the few remaining wild trout fisheries of the world. Rainbow and Brown trout caught in Lake Taupo are renowned for their condition and size, and their taste is second to none. Local guides can be hired, to take you to the best known Ďspotsí of the lake and itís many rivers and streams Ė but remember your fishing license, as these are strictly enforced. Some of the best wild trout fishing in the world is to be found here - but itís not by accident. The daily limit of catch is three, and they must be at least 45cm in length to keep for dinner!

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